James 2:18-20 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
Many years ago, I used to watch TV a sermon on Sunday morning before going to church. I learned so much from listening as the preacher unpacked the Bible for our understanding, edification and spiritual growth … and still does today. I love to hear a sermon. This particular passage in the book of James helped me understand a foundational truth of the gospel: that we do not perform good works to get saved, but we do perform good work as a way of life because we have been saved by God. This TV pastor had a PhD in “World Religions” and points out how most get confused about all the different religions in the world. He said that it is helpful to reduce this complex subject to its simplest components. Ultimately, there are three possible religions.
Matthew 7:16-20 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
This pastor states that first, there is that religion wherein it is taught that a person will become acceptable to God by their good works, their own actions, keeping commandments, following certain rules of morality, piety, benevolence, et cetera. Secondly, there is that religion which teaches simply that mankind will be saved by faith in Christ. Thirdly, there is that religion which teaches that men and women will be saved by a combination of he two – both by faith and by works.
Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The Bible makes it clear that it is only by faith in Christ that we are saved. We cannot add good works to the equation. It also says that “true” faith in Christ will manifest itself in good works. The pastor explains that “faith” is invisible. A person may say that they have faith, but you cannot see it, nor can you show it apart from works (actions). That is why, at the great white throne Judgment day of the Lord, people are judged by their works. By their works they demonstrate the reality of their though they are saved by faith alone. Does that make sense?
James 2:22 “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?”
In Christ, Brian